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How Green is Telecommuting? (Spoiler Alert: Not Very)

Working from home, whether it's every day or just once a week, is one of life's little pleasures. We're big fans of telecommuting, and in the past I've told you not just how to make the case to your boss for telecommuting, but some tips for successful telework and even some unexpected benefits of telecommuting.

It's logical to conclude that another great benefit of working from home is that it's more Earth-friendly, right? So just how green is telecommuting? Slate gives us the surprising answer: It's probably no better -- and possibly worse -- than driving into the office.

Slate is empathic that everyone's situation is different, and your exact carbon footprint will depend upon a lot of factors, including the length of your commute and the climate you live in. Nonetheless, here's the skinny: Assuming you're somewhat average, working from home instead of driving alone to the office saves about 4,900 pounds of CO2 each year. That's not bad.

Unfortunately, working from home is terribly inefficient, so you tend to go through carbon like popcorn. Not only do you need to operate heat, air conditioning, and office appliances for you alone (instead of distributing it across an office full of people), but people tend to do extra wasteful things when working from home -- like running household appliances, taking the car out for errands, and watching TV.

When all is said and done, telecommuters tend to break even. A more green solution? Taking mass transit to the office.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't work from home. But if you trust Slate's numbers, just don't include "saving the earth" among the reasons you cite to convince your boss to let you work from home.

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